When I first met Sara and Alicia, I got a sense of quiet strength and fierce confidence. The two thirty-something friends have both been through a lot in their lives, but refuse to let that stop them.
When I spoke to Sara and Alicia I was learning about a small, organic farm that they run together. It wasn’t until later that I learned the two young women are both veterans. It is that very humble and giving attitude that makes them both so special.
Sara, an air force veteran and military wife, lost her husband to cancer three years ago. It was during his sickness that Sara and her husband started looking in to a diet based in healthy foods- vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts and grains.
After her husband passed away, Sara purchased a farm, like the two of them had envisioned doing together. It was during this time that she began to realize the healing power of producing food. Working with her hands to grow food and take care of animals was beginning to help heal her physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Sara met Alicia during a conference for veterans learning how to farm. After the conference, Alicia packed her bags and moved states to work with Sara on the farm.
Both women have seen the struggles of veterans when returning from deployment. Alicia, a combat veteran, learned firsthand the transition to civilian life is tough. After losing military friends to suicide after deployment, she wanted to find a way to heal and eventually learned that agriculture was a way to do that, she said.
Today the operation is a small-scale sustainable farming business that has sheep, pastured chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, beehives, apples, pears, strawberries, peaches, a garden full of vegetables and more.
Sara and Alicia have grown the operation to become a place of healing for others as well. They offer education and training opportunities to veterans who want to get involved.
“Seeing veterans connect with the land and build relationships with animals is magic,” Alicia said. “So much about being in the military involves destruction, but in agriculture you get to heal things.”
A look at some of the questions:
What is a challenge you have faced?
The industry can feel male-dominated. However, there is a growing trend of women farmland owners and we’re happy to be a part of that. It’s pretty special.
Advice you have to others:
Band together. A lot of times there is sexism in farming, or in any industry for that matter. It’s OK to have a voice.
Goals for the future:
Continue to work with the land and hope that other veterans will be able to reconnect with themselves through farming like we have.
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